John Sudworth recently reported on internment camps for Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.
A veteran BBC correspondent whose coverage angered China has left the country amid concerns for his safety, the BBC and an organization of journalists said.
The BBC said on Wednesday that John Sudworth had moved to Taiwan and would continue to be the Chinese correspondent for the British public broadcaster.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said Sudworth left last week “amid concerns for his safety and that of his family.”
The organization said Sudworth’s wife Yvonne Murray, a correspondent for Irish broadcaster RTE, had left with him.
“John’s work has revealed truths that Chinese authorities did not want the world to know,” the BBC said in a statement on Twitter.
1 / Declaration on the departures of journalists:
The FCCC is concerned and saddened to learn that John Sudworth, the BBC’s nine-year award-winning China correspondent, left mainland China on short notice on March 23 amid concerns for his safety and that of his family.
– Chinese Foreign Correspondents Club (@fccchina) March 31, 2021
The BBC declined to comment further.
Sudworth has been reporting from China for nine years. He won a George Polk Award last year for his reporting on Uyghur internment camps in the Xinjiang region. China claims the camps were vocational training centers and denies any abuse.
China has held a series of press conferences to deny reports from the BBC and other foreign media of human rights violations in Xinjiang.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club said Sudworth was gone after months of attacks, including videos posted online by state media that used videos of him obtained by Chinese police cameras.
“Over the past few years, pressure and threats from Chinese authorities following my reporting here have been fairly constant,” Sudworth told BBC radio.
“But in recent months they have intensified, the BBC has faced a full propaganda attack directed not only against the organization itself, but against me personally, on several platforms controlled by the Communist Party.
The Global Times, a state newspaper, reported that Sudworth, “who has become infamous in China for his many biased stories distorting Chinese policies in Xinjiang and responses to COVID-19, has left mainland China and is in hiding now in Taiwan “.
State media reported that residents of Xinjiang were preparing to sue the BBC for its reporting on the region.
“This is a completely private action and has nothing to do with the Chinese government,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday. “We also haven’t heard of any Chinese government department threatening him. If John Sudworth believes his report is fair and objective, then he should be courageous and respond to the trial instead of being afraid.
Sudworth’s departure comes amid a chill in relations between China and Western countries, including Britain, over alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang and Beijing’s restrictions on political freedoms in Hong Kong.
Pressure on foreign journalists working in China has increased over the past year.
China expelled 18 journalists working for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post in 2020. Most were in response to US measures to force Chinese state media to cut staff in the United States.